July 19, 2016
By Naomi Witherick
Waking up in the mountains with a choice of hiking trails or funky cafés out the front door is what attracts tourists and would-be residents to Canmore. But long-time locals will tell you the warm people and vibrant community make this place home.
Canmore epitomizes alpine village life. Main Street is dense with locally owned shops, quaint eateries, interesting galleries, and health and wellness facilities. Combine that with the great outdoors—superb hiking, biking, skiing, golfing and canoeing—and the picture of Canmore life is as bright as the weather (said to be 330 sunny days a year).
The case for Canmore is aided by the town’s location just an hour drive from Calgary—residents can commute to work in the city or make a quick run to Costco. As attractive and domicile as nearby Banff, Canmore has none of its neighbouring town’s national park need-to-reside restrictions.
Canmore is home to 1988 Olympic venues such as the Canmore Nordic Centre and amazing indoor sport facilities such as Elevation Place. The Bow River runs through the community, four major ski resorts are within an hour’s drive, and Kananaskis Country wilderness areas touch town boundaries.
But the reason people stay in Canmore is the friendly way residents relate to one another. Since the population is largely comprised of people from elsewhere, Canmorites are open to meeting new people and expanding their social circles.
“There’s such a sense of community in Canmore,” says Whitney Arnott, who moved here from rural Ontario. “My friends are genuine. We have dinner parties and go camping together.”
Arnott embraces the volunteering spirit of Canmore. She’s a member of the artsPlace exhibition committee and organizes stained glass, ceramics and photography workshops for kids. “Our free family movie nights are really fun,” she says.
Jaynett Betts fell for Canmore too. Shortly after arriving from Toronto, her children got involved in local theatre productions. The family made new friends and town soon felt like home. “It’s a safe place for kids,” she says. “The community is small, and my girls grew up knowing their neighbours.”
Arnott and Betts both make the most of the mountains. “I hike on my own or with my boyfriend who mountain bikes as well,” says Arnott.
Betts adds, “I hike, ski and snowshoe. My husband ice climbs, and both of us rock climb at Grassi Lakes. In Ontario the ski hills are small, and there are not as many outdoor activities. Our lifestyle here is massively different.”
Although Betts initially believed Canmore was all about the outdoors, she soon saw the town’s real appeal. “At first it felt like we had to be active, but we discovered that it’s the close connection of the people that makes Canmore special. Mountains combined with community. Who wouldn’t want to live here?”
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